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Editor's note: Humor writer and blogger Wendi Aarons traveled to Malawi with Heifer in May as part of the ONE bloggers delegation. She recounts her meeting with Rhoda, a Heifer participant—and now recipient of a cow—in this blog. 

When I was in Malawi last spring with Heifer International and ONE, we met a shy, smiling woman named Rhoda. Rhoda told us, via translator, that she was waiting to receive a dairy animal from Heifer. Before she could receive the animal, however, she had to prepare for it. Much the same way expecting parents get ready for a new baby, only this baby required a slightly bigger sleeping area and lots of hay.

Rhoda poses for a photo before she received her cow when the bloggers met with her in May. In the photo above, she stands with her new cow, Favor.
Rhoda poses for a photo before she received her cow when the bloggers met with her in May. In the photo above, she stands with her new cow, Favor.

Rhoda told us that she had spent many, many hours, many months, constructing a pen for her animal. She hired brick layers, paid for a structure to be built, and basically did everything needed to make a safe and secure area for her livestock. This did not come at any small cost to Rhoda, we realized. She had spent a lot of her very limited funds, funds that could have been spent on her four children instead, but Rhoda knew in her heart that sacrifice was needed to make her family’s life better. I suppose it’s the old “you have to spend money to make money” adage, but in Malawi, that is extremely more difficult to follow-through with when most of the country lives below poverty.

Still, Rhoda’s face lit up with a grin when she told us that she hoped the animal she was expecting would earn money for her. And then, she said, she hoped the animal would go on to help her village when she paid her gift forward by giving two of her animal's babies to others. This was yet another time we either saw or heard firsthand how Heifer International uses the “teach a man to fish” method to give a hand, not a handout, to those who need one. (Although, I should say, in this case, it was “teach a woman how to milk a cow.” There were no fish present.)

At the end of her talk, I raised my hand and asked Rhoda what she was going to name her cow when she received it. The translator said my question into her ear, and she immediately burst out with a laugh and answered. “She doesn’t know yet! She says she has to see the cow first,” the translator told us.

I’ve thought about Rhoda often since I’ve been back in America, wondering how she was doing. Then a few weeks ago, I was thrilled to finally hear the great news from Heifer that, after months of waiting, anticipation, and hard work, Rhoda is now the proud owner of a cow. What a wonderful thing. I already know she will be successful and responsible with her gift, and I will continue to think of her and her family, and her new cow, for a very long time. Her life, and soon those of others, is forever changed for the better. 

Oh, and as for the name of the new cow? Rhoda decided to call her “Favor” because she feels it is by God’s favor that she received this animal from Heifer International. I think it suits her.



Heifer International

Heifer International is a nonprofit, non-governmental organization working with communities to end hunger and poverty while caring for the Earth.